Season 2, Episode 19 - “I Only Have Eyes for You”
Original airdate: April 28, 1998
Project 310 re-watch date: Jan. 20, 2009
Before I get into my analysis/thoughts on this episode, I have to pose a question for those that watched “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” during its original run: how painful was it to go almost 2 months between the previous episode, “Killed by Death”, and this episode? I mean, seriously, that must have sucked (no vampire pun intended, I swear).
Moving beyond that, this episode is a rare type of episode -- a “only on the Hellmouth” phenomenon that actually ends up tying in to the greater story arc. Basically, Sunnydale High is being haunted by the ghosts of two former lovers, a student who murdered the teacher he loved, then killed himself. The ghosts are possessing people at Sunnydale and reenacting their final moments.
The story of the lovers itself is tragic, but its the way the final possession plays out, with Buffy and Angel, that really sells the episode. As I wrote in my recap of “Innocence”, Buffy and Angel are a unique pair of lovers, and in this episode we see a great example of that, because Buffy gets possessed by the male spirit.
One of the great beneath the surface stories in this episode is how both Giles and Buffy take the current scenario playing out in front of them and make it personal. At first, Giles thinks that the spirit haunting Sunnydale is Jenny, because of the violence surrounding her death, and initially refuses to consider any other possibility, despite the evidence in front of him -- he just wants to believe it’s Jenny, so maybe he can have one last moment with him.
The stronger identification is with Buffy, who reacts with utter disdain when the idea of forgiving James is brought up. She can’t forgive him, because she can’t forgive Angel. But James isn’t Angel.
Oh, even though by the time the climax comes and Buffy and Angel are re-enacting the ghost’s final encounter you’ve seen it 3 or 4 times in the episode, it’s significantly more dramatic when it’s Buffy and Angel. Why? Because everything James said to his lover is everything Buffy’s always felt about Angel, even after he lost his soul. And Sarah Michelle Gellar played the scene to perfection. I’m not afraid to admit that I get a little teary watching it. I’ve always been in the Buffy/Angel group of fans, so their dramatic moments always get to me a little bit more, and this one was particularly touching (even though Angel is still technically a soulless demon).
Next up: the absolute worst episode of Season 2 (at least, in my memory), then the PHENOMENAL two-part ending. But first, a break, because Wednesday is “Lost” day, so I won’t be watching any “Buffy”.
Buffy (channelling James): “I don’t give a damn about a normal life. I’m going crazy not seeing you. I think about you every minute.”